I was off work on Friday so I decided to cook something lovely and pair it with one of the Namaqua wines. When I interviewed Susy Atkin at the BBC Good Food Show this summer, she gave me the following advice around food/wine pairing: "The most important thing to remember is to balance like for like. It sounds obvious but people often try to be clever by contrasting flavours and then it goes wrong". The label on the Shiraz Cabernet reliably informed me (prior to taking the cap off and giving it a good gulp) that it is rich and vibrant- with red and black berry fruits and a touch of vanilla oak which gives it a smooth finish. So, with Susy's advice ringing in my ears I decided to go with a slow cooked beef ragu, finished with sprinkles of the salty and delicious hard cheddar Lincolnshire Poacher Double Barrel. Not too spicy but rich enough to marry with the wines flavours.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 20g butter
- Splish of Olive Oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced or crushed (I used smoked garlic for an extra depth of flavour)
- 1-2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 80 ml of beef stock
- 400g pack of lean steak mince
- 75ml milk
Serve with pasta (I used fresh tagliatelle, if you can get it, papperdelle would be lovely too) and sprinkle with Parmesan or other hard cheese.
- We're not dieting with this dish - start with a good splish of olive oil and melt the butter into it. Then add the onion, celery and carrot. Spend some time dicing them as finely as you can, it will result in a better finish at the end. Fry them on a medium heat for up to 10 minutes, making sure you don't brown, only soften the veg.
- Add the mince - go for the best you can afford, I used the co-ops Hereford Lean Steak Mince which is lovely. Cook it down for approx 10 mins until all browned and then add the stock, tomatoes and puree and give it a stir. Season to taste, bring to the boil then turn the heat down as low as you can. Add a lid and let it simmer gently for an hour. I can't explain why, and this is something I've read in recipe books, but after the hour, add the milk and then cook for a further 30 mins.
- It might sound like this is just a 'spag bol' but the low slow cooking and finely diced veg really elevate this to the next level. Using the smoked garlic adds a subtle extra something too. Serve with the pasta and sprinkle with cheese.
If I do say so myself, I felt this was a good match to the Namaqua wine. I love South African wines anyway, having visited the wine regions there on a holiday a few years back so I knew I'd like this one. It was spicier than I'd expected from reading the label but very quaffable too. With a third off for the We Like Wine club, it comes in at £4.45 a bottle - which is in all honesty - gobsmacking. I think I'll be stocking up for Crimbo.
I blog for the Midlands Co-op and they sent me this wine free of charge. However, opinions are all my own.